Why We Sleep

We all know sleep is important, don’t we? I do, and have for years, but I did not realize how small a reduction in sleep we need to be severely cognitively impaired and on the road to mental and physical illness. Dr. Walker makes a very strong case for sleeping as much as your body needs, on the schedule it needs it, with a bare minimum of seven hours a night, (and most people need more).

But we live in a world full of electric light, (and increasingly full-spectrum, or even blue – more “daylight” than daylight – light), endless distractions and electronics, and a society where staying up half the night has become the norm. Most of Why We Sleep deals with why we should sleep more, but a portion is dedicated to how we can improve sleep, both with technology and non-medical therapy. I have suffered from a lingering cold over the past few weeks as I worked my way through Why We Sleep, and a cold is the perfect excuse to sleep more. According to my Vivosmart 3 I have slept 9.5 hours a night this month, up from 8 in December and even less before that, (and the Vivosmart 3 isn’t very good at distinguishing between time in bed and time asleep). Now that the cold is finally coming to an end it’s time to figure out how much sleep I need on an ongoing basis, and when I should get that sleep according to my non-negotiable, (according to the book), circadian rhythm. This is something that isn’t covered in Why We Sleep, (or if it is I forgot about it). I have years of experience Doing It Wrong™, how do I really know if I’m getting enough sleep now? The same question goes for circadian rhythm: I’ve been a “night owl” since high school, but is that because I’m really a night owl, or is it because I have been distracted by books and technology and am a master sleep procrastinator? These the questions I hope to answer soon.

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